KABUL- Some NATO officials say it seems about 15,000 foreign troops, including American, will remain in Afghanistan after the formal withdrawal by the end of this year.
US President Barack Obama last week announced he plans to keep 9800 troops in Afghanistan until 2016 if the Afghan government signs the bilateral security agreement. NATO officials in Brussels said ISAF personnel would stay in Afghanistan under the proposed Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) with the Afghan government to embark on the new mission of training and advising Afghan forces beyond 2014. A high-ranking NATO official in Brussels told Afghan media that half of the American residual troops would assist the NATO new mission of training and advising Afghan forces and the remaining half would carry out counter insurgency operations. The official said it seemed 10,000 to 12000 troops from NATO allies and ISAF partners would remain in Afghanistan post-2014 to keep training Afghan forces. The NATO's new mission in Afghanistan post-2014 would involve 15000 international troops, including Americans, who would carry out counter insurgency operations. However, the source said a final decision in this regard was yet to be made and hoped the ongoing NATO defence ministerial meeting would discuss the issue.
The two-day defence ministerial meeting began today in Brussels, where NATO is headquartered, to discuss the situation in Ukraine and Georgia and the security situation in Afghanistan. Afghan defence minister Bismillah Khan Mohammadi is expected to raise the issue of Pakistani rocket attacks into eastern Afghan provinces at the meeting.